I’m sure my eyes looked huge as I talked to my pastor.
I was in his office a few years ago, bemoaning the woes of widowhood.
“I’m alone,” I told him.
My pastor disagreed and began to list off the names of my biological and church family members, along with other friends.
But this is how I saw my situation:
My late husband, Chuck, and I were a team. Even if the whole world turned against us — at least we had each other.
Other people had their own spouses and family members who were their priorities. Those people came first. Not me.
It seemed that I was no one’s first priority — not any more.
In my mind’s eye, I would come to imagine myself like a fishing bobber floating adrift in a vast body of water.
At times, we all can feel so alone, but that’s when the Lord can remind us that we’re not.
One Bible story that powerfully illustrates this is in 1 Kings, chapter 19.
By this time, the prophet Elijah is running from the evil Queen Jezebel.
The queen is a ruthless killer, who’s sent a messenger to tell Elijah that he’s on her hit list.
Although Elijah has experienced God’s incredible power — which includes seeing the Lord rain down fire from heaven — the prophet runs away.
He flees to Mount Horeb, where he spends the night in a cave.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” the Lord asks.
Isn’t it obvious? The guy’s on the run.
But Elijah pours out his heart. He tells God how hard he’s worked for him and that all the other prophets have been killed.
“I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too,” Elijah says.
Elijah must feel so alone.
But he isn’t.
He’s with the God who created the entire universe.
“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by,” God says.
And the Lord passes by in a powerful way.
A mighty wind tears the mountains and breaks the rocks before him into pieces.
But God is not in the wind.
Next, there is an earthquake.
But God is not in the earthquake.
After that comes a fire.
But God is not in the fire.
Then, there is the sound of a gentle whisper.
Elijah pulls his cloak over his face and stands at the cave’s entrance.
Again, God asks Elijah what he’s doing in this cave and again Elijah tells him.
God then gives Elijah some marching orders — telling him to put certain people in charge to get rid of the bad guys. God tells him to go get another man, named Elisha, who will succeed him as prophet.
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And God says there are 7,000 people in Israel who haven’t been worshiping the false god, Baal.
The longest journey starts with a single step.
Elijah will take that step out of the cave and into the next part of his faith journey.
The mean queen will die an ugly death. Elisha will prove to be a loyal mentee.
And I think Elijah will learn he wasn’t really alone after all.
God did so much for Elijah on that mountain.
For one, God showed his power through the wind, earthquake and fire.
Yet God showed such tenderness and mercy through the soft whisper, asking Elijah to assess his own situation.
God wasn’t just Elijah’s most powerful ally — he was the compassionate Lord, who’d lead the prophet further into his destiny.
Unlike Elijah, we don’t always learn the details of our futures.
But — like Elijah — we can choose to trust and follow God, who can guide us out of the dark caves in our lives and give us a renewed sense of purpose.
God’s been continually doing that with me. Like Elijah, I’ve lamented over my losses and been weary of the all the work. I’ve known the sense of aloneness.
It’s a real feeling.
But recently, I was struck by some lines in the movie, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
In the movie, a feisty rogue named Zorri Bliss gives some advice to the daring fighter pilot Poe Dameron.
“They win by making you think you’re alone,” Bliss says of their enemy.
But later Poe will say: “We’re not alone.”
I’ll bet Jezebel wanted Elijah to think he was alone and the situation was hopeless.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
And it’s not true for us either as we reach out to our mighty and loving God, who promises in his word never to leave nor forsake us.
As I walk this latest part of my faith journey, I know that no one can replace the loved ones I’ve lost in my life.
But I’ve seen God put other people to walk along with me on my path.
It makes the journey easier.
What’s more, God gives me hope for the future.
As my pastor says, “God’s always got something up his sleeve — and he’s got a really big sleeve.”
This gives me some peace mixed with a little anticipation and even excitement.
We serve a God of wonderful surprises.
I wasn’t really surprised — but I was pleased — when a dear family member sent me this text: “We are here for you.”
It made me think how important it is to share our feelings with friends and loved ones.
Even before that, I looked up some information about fishing bobbers and found that they’re usually attached to a line. I can see a spiritual connection.
I believe the Holy Spirit is our line — a lifeline — to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus.
So, even at times when I may feel like that bobber, I know I have a connection to Christ — certainly more secure than any fishing line.
In the meantime, I — and so many other people — continue on our journeys one step at a time, trusting in our faithful God, who in Isaiah 14:10 says:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
It’s one more reminder of how we’re never alone.
Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.